Let's talk about an "un-German" but somehow made up German Christmas tradition, the story of the Christmas pickle legend. Today I heard the first time about it and I am as German as it can get. But my opinion might not count, so I decided to reveal that myth or legend about that holy German Christmas pickle, in the hope that someone will read this.
I did my research and found out that it is a German tradition. Great. A tradition I never heard about? I thought maybe it is an Eastern or Northern Christmas thingy, but something did not feel right about that cucumber.
What is the German Christmas Pickle or Weihnachtsgurke (horrible word)? A Christmas ornament that looks like a pickle is hidden in the Christmas tree, and the first child that finds that green pickle on Christmas morning gets an extra gift or it also means good fortune, Glueck! Okay. Sounds like a Chinese tradition to me.
There is a city in Michigan, Berrien Springs, that is to be known as the "pickle capitol of the world". They hold a pickle festival in early December and even have a pickle parade - well they have cucumber plantations and selling pickles is their business, so what does this have to with Christmas? Nothing. With Germany? Nothing.
Now it gets interesting. Americans believe that this comes from Germany and some even say that the origin of the Christmas pickle may have been developed for marketing purposes in the 1890s to coincide with the importation of glass Christmas tree decorations from Germany were the first company to import these types of decorations into the United States in 1890,and glass blown decorative vegetables were imported from France from 1892 onwards. That is very nice. Why is it not France that supposedly has created this tradition? No, still it is Germany. The best story that proves it is a German invention is the following one:
One suggested origin has been that the tradition came from Camp Sumter during the American Civil War. The Bavarian-born Private John C. Lower had enlisted in the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was captured in April 1864 and taken to the prison camp. As the story is told, on Christmas Eve he begged a guard for a pickle whilst starving. The guard provided the pickle, which Lower later credited for saving his life. After returning to his family, he began a tradition of hiding a pickle on their Christmas tree each year.
To make it clear I asked the Germans on the Facebook page of www.Mybestgermanrecipes.com about that German Christmas Pickle myth. True or False? There are more than 60 comments and they all say No, it is not German.
Check out the comments and see that the German Christmas Pickle tradition is something we Germans don't have to be proud of. Or maybe we should!